Supervising Professors and Teaching Assistants

Rights and Responsibilities

History graduate students are instructors as well as students; history faculty members are mentors as well as supervisors. Recognizing that the relationship between faculty members and graduate students is one of collegiality among historians but—especially between supervising professors and teaching assistants—also one with clear lines of authority, it is necessary and proper that professors and graduate students treat one another courteously and professionally at all times. This is particularly important in the classroom, including courses in which graduate students are registered and courses in which graduate students serve as teaching assistants. Below are detailed rights and responsibilities for Supervising Professors and Teaching Assistants:

Supervising Professors

The Supervising Professors are the ultimate authority on matters related to:

  • syllabus design;
  • course content;
  • grading policies;
  • class management;
  • all other pedagogical and classroom issues.

Supervising professors are also responsible for:

  • the training and supervision of graduate students (i.e. organizing and leading the orientation for TAs prior to the beginning of the Fall semester, preparing them for discussion sections, evaluating class presentations);
  • presenting to teaching assistants grading policies, procedures, and course standards in a timely and clear fashion;
  • ensuring that teaching assistants submit weekly timesheets for their review and signature before passing it on to the director of graduate studies;
  • ensuring that they are accessible to teaching assistants via e-mail and telephone.
  • maintaining a regular meeting schedule with all teaching assistants to serve as a platform for discussion about the course content, grading policies and procedures, and all other matters related to the course.

They may also:

  • be consulted by the chair on TA assignments.

Teaching Assistants

The Teaching Assistants are responsible for:

  • attending assigned sections of Western Civilization and Introduction to American History (although in rare cases and with prior permission TAs may be excused from class to attend conferences and to participate in other professional development opportunities);
  • completing all the readings assigned to the undergraduates;
  • taking attendance and keeping records;
  • assigning and recording grades, according to the guidelines established by the supervising professors;
  • leading periodic discussion sessions and review sessions;
  • collaborating on teaching materials and exercises;
  • attending all meetings scheduled by Supervising Professors and arriving at those meetings on time;
  • carrying out all other course-related duties assigned by Supervising Professors (i.e. photocopying, collating, proctoring examinations, etc.).
  • establishing the times and places of their office hours (which they must hold for at least an average of three hours a week, although they may fluctuate depending on exam and paper schedules).
  • communicating their own concerns and the concerns of their students to their supervising professors;
  • ensuring that they are accessible to supervising professors via e-mail and telephone.

NOTE: Teaching Assistants must pre-register for classes on their assigned registration dates in order to facilitate their assignment to course sections that do not conflict with their own schedules.

Teaching Assistant Workload

Teaching Assistant Workload:

  • Supervising Professors must in good faith limit the workload of TAs (including all of the duties listed in Section IIB) to an average of approximately twenty hours per week over the course of the semester.
  • Supervising Professors must also in good faith consider the TAs' schedules in assigning deadlines for grading to be completed and in scheduling review sessions.
  • TAs must in good faith use their time wisely and efficiently.
  • Teaching assistants will submit detailed, weekly time sheets to their supervising professors for signature and review, before the supervising professors submit them to the director of graduate studies.

Questions or Concerns?

In the event that TAs have questions and concerns about their jobs, including their relationships with their supervising professors, about other TAs—about anything related to their roles as Teaching Assistants, they should speak first to their supervising professors. If the problem continues, they should speak to the Director of Graduate Studies. As in all personnel matters, the Department Chair is the ultimate source of responsibility and appeal.